The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part II – Review & Reflection

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Title: The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part II

Previous Installment: The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part I

Starring: Jennifer LawrenceJosh HutchersonLiam Hemsworth

Genre: Action/Adventure, Drama, Thriller, Science-Fiction

Release date: November 20, 2015 (USA)

Directed by: Francis Lawrence

Based on: “Mockingjay” by Suzanne Collins

Distributed by: Lionsgate

Running Time: 137 minutes

Rating: PG-13 (for intense sequences of violence and action, and for some thematic material)

For those of you who have not seen the movie yet, the first part of this review will be non-spoilery — just a basic introduction as to what the movie is about, and my overall thoughts on whether or not you should see it and why. However, I will be going in depth for those of you who have seen the film, so please do stick around if you’re interested.

Film Synopsis: 

With the nation of Panem in a full scale war, Katniss (Jennifer Lawrence) confronts President Snow (Donald Sutherland) in the final showdown. Teamed with a group of her closest friends -– including Gale (Liam Hemsworth), Finnick (Sam Claflin) and Peeta (Josh Hutcherson) -– Katniss goes off on a mission with the unit from District 13 as they risk their lives to liberate the citizens of Panem, and stage an assassination attempt on President Snow who has become increasingly obsessed with destroying her. The mortal traps, enemies, and moral choices that await Katniss will challenge her more than any arena she faced in The Hunger Games.

Brief Review: 

★★★★★

This movie was a perfect, fitting conclusion to what has been an incredible series. Jennifer Lawrence, once again, was mind-blowing in her portrayal of Katniss Everdeen — so good that it’s nearly impossible to imagine another actress playing the part. (Kinda gives you Harry Potter/Daniel Radcliffe vibes, doesn’t it?) I think it’s to her credit that the films have gained so much well-deserved attention and popularity over the years. Her commitment to her character and to the story is blatantly obvious, and that’s part of what makes all these movies so special.

I will be honest here — because this is an honest review — the movie starts off with more of a whimper than a bang. I don’t mean that in a negative way, though. The gradual build up is what made this film so captivating — it had me squirming in my seat waiting to see what was to come.

This movie was heavy-weight, far more intense than I anticipated, but with good reason. I knew going in that Mockingjay Part II would be far more subdued action-wise, because this final conclusion is essentially about Katniss finding her inner self and truly becoming the Mockingjay the people of Panem see her as — a beacon, a light in a sea of darkness. This movie, unlike the other ones I feel, really shed light on what the citizens of Panem had to endure. It portrayed their struggle and their desperation for a new and better life in a heart wrenching, yet spot on manner.

Whether you’re watching it as a fan of the books or of the films, I think this movie will speak to everyone. It’ll leave you pondering upon some very important concepts, and you’ll find it haunting how some things can be so easily applied to our society in this day and age. So, do I recommend it? Yes. It’s definitely worth watching. I should warn you though — since the tone of the entire film is very dark and emotional, think twice before watching it with someone, who’s perhaps, expecting the opposite going in.

When you’ve seen it, feel free to come back here and discuss with us!

*WARNING* Starting here, this review will get spoilery, so if you haven’t seen the film I’d highly recommend reading this later. If you’re going to discuss the film in the comments, put a spoiler warning so as not to spoil those who haven’t seen the film yet 🙂 

All right. Wow. There are so many things to talk about, I don’t even know where to begin. I’ve only seen the movie once so far, so my memory is a little hazy, but I’ll try my best to include everything I can remember. I should probably say this first though — I am so glad that Francis Lawrence paid attention to the smallest of details. It’s because of that dedication to the fans and to the books that so many of us love these films so much.

  • Katniss. With her voice broken, her face pale and the heartbreak of losing Peeta to Snow’s manipulation evident in her blank eyes. It was at this moment that I knew this movie would break my heart. I was ready. I was prepared to fall in love and have my heart smashed to smithereens.
  • The small details. The attention to the details of the ruins was truly astonishing. The corpses of men, women and children strewn about like puzzle pieces, the dirt and rubble, the crumbling buildings — they all left me with a great sense of dread, and an aching feeling in my gut as I realized how devastating it must be to have your home destroyed in war.
  • Katniss’s anxiety. Her constant shaking and panic mixed with longing and heartbreak at every encounter with Peeta. Her desperation for him to come back to her. Jennifer Lawrence’s acting was phenomenal when it came to portraying the mental state of her character.
  • The meeting between Prim and Peeta. This had a good amount of impact, especially because you were able to see Peeta’s physical as well as mental state when he was talking to Prim. He mentioned his family, and how Katniss was not to be trusted, and it broke my heart that Snow had managed to completely damage and destroy every shred of innocence this sweet, sweet boy had left in him.  
  • The meeting between Katniss and Peeta. His hijacked state is absolutely horrifying. Heartbreaking. Gut wrenching. That line “all I know is that I would saved myself a lot of suffering if I’d just given that bread to the pig” — damn, did it cut deep. The horror and having her heart break was crystal clear on Katniss’s face, and reflected my own emotions upon hearing Peeta say that.
  • Johanna. Zero f***s given in every scene, as usual; and I adore her for it. Whether Katniss realized it or not, she needed that blunt and ambitious attitude in her life to fuel the fire raging inside her.
  • The dance between Prim and Katniss at Finnick and Annie’s wedding. I think the wedding scene in particular is very underrated — it symbolized a moment of peace and happiness in the midst of war and anguish. Watching it, my heart ached for Finnick and Annie, who were so lost in the others’ embrace, not a care in the world; with no idea that it would all be taken from them. And then we had Katniss, spinning around with her little sister, smiling for the first time in so long. And then the voices started to fade, the room became one huge blur, and it was just them. And Katniss stopped and scooped Prim into her arms — and that was such a beautiful moment between the two of them. The goodbye they would never get to have.
  • Finnick Odair? More like Finnick Odear. His death is the one death I will never, ever be able to accept or come to terms with. I remember reading his death scene in the book, and wanting to throw it at the wall because I was so upset. Finnick, the one character who deserves so much more recognition than he gets. He took care of an old woman in the arena out of the kindness of his heart and without asking for anything in return; he took care of his mentally-ill wife Annie; he took it upon himself to look after Peeta; and regardless of all of this he was used by the Capitol for his body. He was a character that grew on you, one that you eventually came to love and respect — who was nothing like you’d assumed, and who deserved so much more than what he got.
  • The Mockingjay. Katniss Everdeen is the perfect example of a reluctant hero. She never asked for any of this to happen to her — she went into the Hunger Games to protect Prim, knowing there was a very likely chance that she would die. Never would she have imagined she would become a symbol of hope for her people and part of a rebellion to take down the cruel dictator of Panem. As much as she wanted to help in this mission, it was obvious from the previous films how out-of-place she felt being such a big a part of it. Her main priority was always to protect her family and Peeta. She was too focused on them to think about anything else. Until this last and final chapter in this whirlwind of a series, when she really transformed from a broken and hollow girl to this strong female heroine that will inspire people young and old for generations to come. She truly molded into her role as the Mockingjay when she realized how much this nation needed her. She was tired of losing people, she was tired of being hurt and treated like scum, she was tired of playing Snow’s game. And so, The Girl on Fire grew wings. She began to fight. She put herself in danger to do so. She became selfless and courageous. What blows my mind is that Katniss is only seventeen. Seventeen. My age. And she has the power to move mountains.
  • The bombs. The bombing of the children, unfortunately, is what stands out most in my mind. The parachutes floating down, the hushed crowd of innocent children reaching for them. The unmistakeable ringing in the aftermath that signified something terrible had happened. The smoke and the ashes. All this happened in broad daylight, and the nature of the parachutes just added to the horror. I knew it was coming and still, I couldn’t stop shaking for at least 10 minutes after it had happened. And to imagine that this happens in real life, to real kids — it’s devastating.
  • The rebellion comes to an end. That scene with Katniss marching up to Coin and shooting her in the heart with an arrow was brilliant. And then leaving President Snow to be finished off by the people of Panem. Again, brilliant. It was such an iconic, historic moment and I think the whole audience in the movie theater was moved by it.
  • Prim and Buttercup. I really expected to cry the moment we found out Prim died, but I didn’t. Like Katniss, it didn’t really hit me and the tears didn’t flow until all of it was said and done and Katniss came home to an empty house with Buttercup, Prim’s cat, still there. I understood Katniss keeping her feelings bottled up. I understood her finally breaking down, realizing all that she had lost — realizing that she had lost the one thing that really, truly mattered to her. And in the end, despite everything, despite the fact that she didn’t really like Buttercup, she took that cat in her arms and cradled it. For Prim. To remember her by. To honor her memory.
  • “You love me. Real or not real?” “Real.” Does anything more need to be said? I think not. Just… spot on. Absolute perfection.
  • The epilogue. The atmosphere of the movie changed entirely. The sun was out, the colors vivid on the screen, and Katniss and Peeta with their children looked so different — older, mature, happy with an undertone of lingering, never ending sadness from all that they’d endured. It was a fresh start for them. Rebirth. A chance to finally, finally be at peace.
  • “There are much worse games to play.” The screen fades to black. The credits start rolling. And so do the tears. I had teared up quite a few times during the film and I had a lump in my throat, but I hadn’t really cried. Until it hit me that it was over. And it was like being at the Deathly Hallows Part II premiere all over again.  

I can’t believe how fast this film saga came and went — it seems like only yesterday I was waiting excitedly with my ticket at the movie theater before watching one of my favorite books, The Hunger Games, come to life on screen. It’s been an intense, heart wrenching, emotional, but truly fulfilling journey; and I am so grateful to have been a part of it. I love this fandom, and it will live on in my heart forever.

For old times’ sake, and as a last goodbye to one heck of a series, may the odds be ever in your favor. 

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